Entertainment

Here’s Your Latino Movie Guide To The Tribeca Film Festival

@elenagaby_ | @nadiahallgren

We’re so excited for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. There’s so much going on, and we’re eagerly anticipating all of the Latino films and filmmakers who will be on the big screen in New York City. The festival that takes place April 24 through May 5 features films that take on important issues affecting our community including topics such as immigration and the recovery of Puerto Rico.

The festival will also feature films directed by Latinx directors from around the world. The feature program includes 103 films from 124 filmmakers, and 42 of them are first-time filmmakers. The films also highlight the work of women — 40 percent of the feature films have one or more women directors, and 29 percent of the feature films are directed by people of color, while 13 percent of the feature films are by individuals who identify as LGBTQ.

Aside from films, there are also some exciting panels featuring director Guillermo Del Toro, Queen Latifah, and a special talk on the 25th anniversary of “In Living Color,” which includes creators and actors from the show. Here are a couple of films that caught our eye.

“After Maria,” directed Nadia Hallgren.

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Nadia Hallgren, award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer from the Bronx, will present her documentary short film titled “After Maria.”

The film centers around Puerto Rican women “forced to flee the island after Hurricane Maria have bonded like family in a FEMA hotel in the Bronx. They seek stability in their new life as forces try to pull them apart.” This film will also be released on Netflix.

“I Am Human,” directed by Elena Gaby.

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Elena Gaby, a Brazilian-American filmmaker, and producer, who’s been on the movie radar since she won the Best Student Documentary in 2014 at the Cannes Film Festival, is bringing her feature film “I Am Human.”

According to the festival’s website, the film dives into the question “what it means to be human.” The movie “offers a glimpse of what this technical evolution entails, following three individuals with neurological disorders: one rendered tetraplegic after a bike accident, one battling Parkinson’s Disease, and one with late-onset blindness.”

“The Gasoline Thieves,” directed by Edgar Nieto.

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Mexican director Edgar Nieto presents his first feature film “The Gasoline Thieves” (“Huachicolero”). The film looks at Mexico’s increasing gas shortage and tells the story of Lalo, a 14-year-old, who seeks out to work as a huachicoleros (people who steal gasoline and re-sell it) to get a few bucks to buy a smartphone. The dangerous and illegal job, however, quickly takes over his life.

“Two/One,” directed by Juan Cabral.

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“Narcos” actor Boyd Holbrook stars in the feature film “Two/One” as a ski jumping champion is leading a parallel life with another man, in another country. They are both connected in ways they are unaware of. “While one sleeps, the other is awake. The world waits for an impending moment; They must unite.” This film is directed by Argentine writer and director Juan Cabral.

“Clementine,” starring Otmara Marrero.

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Cuban-American actress Otmara Marrero stars in “Clementine” a feature film that is being described as a psychological drama and sexual coming-of-age story.

Marrero plays Karen a woman looking for a solid relationship. When she breaks into her ex’s house, she meets Lana who instantly lures her in with her charm.

Other Latino films and Latino-directed films include: “Carlito Leaves Forever,” directed by Quentin Lazzarotto; “The Dishwasher,” directed by Nick Hartanto and Sam Roden; “Driving Lessons,” directed by Marziyeh Riahi; “Hard-ish Bodies,” directed by Mike Carreon; “Night Swim,” directed by Victoria Rivera; “La Noria,” directed by Carlos Baena; “PeiXes,” directed by Juan Carlos Pena Babío; “A Tale of Two Kitchens,” directed by Trisha Ziff; “Lady Hater,” directed by Alexandra Barreto; “Initials SG,” by Daniel Garcia; and “This Is Not Berlin,” directed by Hari Sama.

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READ: Miami Film Festival Cancels Screening of Immigration Doc After ICE Detained The Movie’s Main Character

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

Entertainment

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

There’s a new live-action stage version of Disney’s 1997 animated film “Hercules” at the Public Theater in New York City — and Hercules is Black as hell

In 1997, San Francisco Gate’s Peter Sack described the film as, “The great old Greek is turned into a ’90s-style athlete who gets endorsements, sandals named after him and a chance to stand tall among nymphs and muses.”

Sound familiar to you? Lest we not forget this was the same era that Michael Jordan did Space Jam and Shaquille O’Neal did Kazaam. The original animated film took inspiration from major athletes of the time and thus, it inevitably heavily references Black and hood ’90s culture. If you watch it now the sneakers, the gospel music, the humor, it probably seems so obvious. 

One might wonder with all these references to the Black popular culture of the ’90s, why didn’t the creators just make Hercules Black? Well, they finally have.

The story of Hercules.  

While most of us were forced to read and re-read Hercules in secondary school, not everyone may know the story. Hercules is the son of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. When a prophecy foretells that he will eventually defeat the god of the underworld, Hades, Hercules is kidnapped as an infant. Unable to kill him, Hades is able to take his immortality away but not his strength. The baby Hercules is raised by a mortal couple. At 18 he figures out his real origins and is determined to become a hero so that he can return to Mount Olympus with the gods.

Meet your new Hercules.

Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through The Public Theater’s Public Works Program is based on the 1997 animated film, and has kept Alan Menken’s musical score. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also created the music for Disney’s Aladdin. Jelani Alladin stars as the demi-god Hercules. Krysta Rodriguez plays his love interest Megara.

The difference between the stage musical and the film is that Disney has finally chosen to embrace their story’s Blackness. Rather than simply coding their narrative as one with allusions to Black culture, they’ve put that Blackness at the forefront and center. That’s what we call growth! Everybody loves Black culture, it’s time we start loving the people who make it. 

Danielle C. Belton of The Root describes the original as having flirted with African-American culture, while this new version embraces a multicultural cast. 

“While the film Hercules only flirted with African-American music and culture—the muses who were the “Greek chorus” throughout the film were patterned after classic, Motown-style Black ‘50s girl groups,” she writes. “This version of ancient Greece and the Greco-Roman gods features quite a few Black, Asian and Latinx people, including Jelani Alladin as the titular teenaged Hercules, and, of course—all five of the doo-wopping muses are…sistas with voices.”

How Hercules gave nods to Black culture. 

Hercules is something of a hood icon. It was the first time many kids probably saw Black women portrayed as the muses and Greek chorus. This gaggle of doo-wopping muses sang the funky, soulful Hercules theme. There were also pivotal aspects of hood culture, some of it is even social commentary. Hercules’s character is parallel to the superstar basketball players of the ’90s, their rabid fans, and endorsement deals. The creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, even referred to Hercules as the Michael Jordan of his time. 

In the movie, we see a young Hercules’ as he rises to fame for being a demi-God with some serious strength. When the hero-worship begins, he snags a sweet endorsement deal — but these aren’t Nike Jordans — they’re fresh to death Hercules sandals called Air-Hercs. When the villain Hades sees that one of his minions is rocking the Hercules sandals his response is simple and iconic: what are those?The phrase has now become a popular meme on Black Twitter going so far as being referenced in the “Black Panther” movieThe hero even has his own version of a Gatorade sponsorship, the drink is called “Herculade.”

A Latinx Megara embraces feminism.

Unlike other Disney women of the era, Megara was never waiting to be saved. She was sarcastic, witty, and pretty unimpressed with Hercules’ attempts to holler at her. Krysa Rodriguez’ Megara puts feminism at the forefront — again we see subtle codes made explicit. 

“In a new song, a pants-clad Meg imagines a world without men, envisioning it as a utopia where she could do as she pleases. A dopey, lovestruck Hercules, seeking to demonstrate his feminist credentials, replies clumsily, ‘My mom’s a woman,’” writes Adrienne Westenfeld for Esquire.

Diversity is always an improvement. We live in a multicultural world, there is never anything wrong with reflecting that in the stories we tell. After all, it’s the stories we tell that teach us who we are and who we will become. For Hercules that is learning the truth about his traumatic past to create a better future — for America, well, it’s no different.

Tessa Thompson’s Latest Instagram Is A Tribute To A Girl Who Could Not Wait To Get Her Picture At The ‘MIB’ Premiere

Entertainment

Tessa Thompson’s Latest Instagram Is A Tribute To A Girl Who Could Not Wait To Get Her Picture At The ‘MIB’ Premiere

When the original “Men In Black” premiered in 1997, there’s no denying it was a mega box office hit. In fact, we’re a bit more surprised that it took this long for there to be another installation to the franchise. Now, 22 years later, the new version, fittingly titled, “Men In Black: International” the film is more inclusive, which is certainly appreciated in this day and age.

It’s because of this diverse representation that Latinas can see themselves on the big screen.

Last week, during the “Men In Black” premiere Tessa Thompson spotted a little girl who was dressed just like her in the movie.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

Thompson recounted the moment on Instagram and discussed how much she’s been through with the filming of the movie and doing press all over the world. She said it was this moment that meant so much to her.

“These past couple weeks have been almost a blur— except, my favorite moment of all— meeting the one person I really made @meninblack for. Hers was the first face I saw when I arrived to the premiere— and it’s still on my mind. And what she said to me, I’ll never forget.”

This moment really signifies why representation matters so much.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

People seem to forget how many others are excluded when we see a movie or TV show, so when you see a person that looks like you starring in a massive project, it’s an encouraging thing that means to so many. Now we’re wondering what that little girl said to her. Please tell us, Tessa!

Thompson’s role in the new “Men In Black” also came with a couple of changes including something she didn’t want to say just because Will Smith said it in the original.

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Thompson said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she didn’t want the new movie to be too much like the old one, which makes sense especially because this is 2019! We don’t need to regress to 1997.

In the original movie, Smith says “I make this look good” after he first puts on his suit. Thompson said she would never say that line.

“I wouldn’t have said it. In fact, I think someone did ask me to — just as an option — and I said no. M [her character] is just different from that character [Agent J/Smith]. Yeah, I was really conscious of too much nostalgia. Also, inside of that, there were moments when I thought, ‘Let’s lean in.'”

Yes!! That is why we need more women of color in movies!